Dirty vs. Clean Keto

If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard, “I love Keto, I’m losing weight while eating BACON!” While this may be true, it may not be healthy for the long-term.

The Ketogenic Diet is a popular way to lose weight and improve health quickly. The diet consists of very low carbohydrate (5%), high fat (75%) and moderate protein (20%) consumption. It is popular right now because of its reputation for causing quick fat loss. In addition to weight loss, the keto diet has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and lower the risk of certain cancers.

How it Works

Weight loss is achieved by reducing your carb intake and forcing your body into ketosis – a process where ketones are burned for energy rather than glucose (a sugar molecule found in carbohydrates). Ketones are byproducts of fat breakdown and become the main fuel source when following a ketogenic diet. Normally, fat is reserved as a secondary fuel source to use when glucose is not available.

Dirty vs. Clean Keto

There are healthy and less-healthy ways to follow this dietary regimen. The source of the fat you eat doesn’t matter to your body when trying to lose weight on the keto diet. For example, you could eat bacon cheeseburgers (sans bun) every day – maintain a state of ketosis – and lose weight.

To do keto the right way, you should always be supporting your health. While weight loss is important, healing your body should be the primary goal. Conditions such as inflammation, gut dysbiosis, hormone imbalances and abnormal blood sugar levels are going to make weight loss more difficult. So, we must focus on food nutrition and quality even while on a ketogenic diet.

Dirty Keto

This term refers to eating a diet that is technically still keto – low in carbs and high in fat – but with less nutritious food sources. Although you can still attain ketosis and obtain some of the keto diet’s benefits using this approach, you may miss out on several key nutrients and increase your risk of disease.

The dirty version of keto typically refers to eating large quantities of:

  • Pre-packaged and processed keto diet foods – Just because the packaging states that a food is “keto-friendly” it doesn’t mean that it is a good idea for you to eat it. Artificial foods are filled with chemicals that can disrupt your gut bacteria and affect your brain. They also tend to be significantly higher in sodium.
  • Full-fat dairy – OVERUSE of high-fat dairy products (full-fat milk and cheese) can lead to a diet that is extremely high in saturated fat, which can put you at risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Processed and red meats – Processed and red meats (bacon, sausage, beef) should also be limited to only grass-fed and organic meats. Grain-fed cows are full of omega-6 fats, which are inflammatory.

Those on dirty keto tend to not eat enough vegetables, which can leave your body nutrient deficient. When your body is lacking in required vitamins and minerals – such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins C, D, and K – you are more susceptible to disease. While these nutrients can be obtained from supplements, your body digests and utilizes them better when derived from whole foods.

Clean Keto

Clean keto focuses on whole, nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods that are high in fiber and low in net carbs. This version puts more emphasis on food quality. Clean keto food options consist of: grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, wild-caught seafood and non-starchy green vegetables.

The following should be eaten in abundance when following a clean keto diet:

  • Monosaturated fats – Nutrient-rich, healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, ghee and nut butter are great sources. Even though butter is keto-friendly, cooking with olive, avocado or walnut oil provide healthier options.
  • High-fiber veggies: Many vegetables are high in fiber, which makes their net carbs very low. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, romaine lettuce and asparagus are almost pure fiber, so you can eat as much as you want. Pair these veggies with fat – bake them in butter, sauté them in coconut oil, or steam and eat with guacamole or tahini.

80/20 Rule

Transitioning into ketosis can be challenging for the first couple of weeks. The drastic reduction in carbohydrates can come as a shock to the body as it adapts to burning ketones for energy instead of glucose. Some people experience withdrawal-like symptoms referred to as the “Keto Flu.”

For this reason, we think it is acceptable to eat ANY kind of keto when you are first starting. Occasional dirty keto is also okay when you are having a craving or “cheat day.” Stick to the 80/20 rule and you should be on the right track to maintaining to a healthy diet while on keto. Just remember – on any diet – the nutrient value and quality of your food is essential to avoiding negative long-term health effects, such as an increased risk of disease and nutrient deficiencies.

Be. Clinical Spa supports a healthy ketogenic lifestyle, but it is not right for everyone. For example, those with Autoimmune Disorders should not try keto. Call our office at (281) 894-9992 to schedule your complimentary nutrition consultation and find out if the ketogenic diet is right for you.

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